The Nine 2020: Future Forward

SCN The Nine
(Image credit: Future)

These days, it seems that the future of pro AV, business and, frankly, the entire world is uncertain. But the 2020 class of SCN’s The Nine is looking ahead to a brighter future. They are ready to take on today’s problems with tomorrow’s solutions.

Take Tammuz Dubnov, for example. His passion for the arts and sciences led him to create Zuzor, a company that offers a software and platform solution that enables any digital display to support experiential content. Now he (and others!) is able to synchronize elaborate choreography to a video background using a one-of-a-kind interactive projection platform.

With her focus on furthering technical career opportunities for women, Kari Martinez created an industry-wide survey to gain statistical insights into the field so she can use the data to create a better, more inclusive future.

Crestron’s Sharath Abraham isn’t afraid to ask questions and pushes himself to learn new skills so he can use the knowledge in his current and future positions.

These are just a few examples of the creativity, passion, and forward-thinking mindset of this year’s The Nine honorees, who are illuminating the way for those who want to rush boldly into the future of pro AV. Read on to get to know the 2020 class.

The Nine 2020

Meet 2020's Class of The Nine

Sharath Abraham

Sharath Abraham, Crestron

Sharath Abraham (Image credit: Sharath Abraham)

Name: Sharath Abraham

Title: Technical Director

Company: Crestron

Why You Need to Know Him: Sharath Abraham has merged his strong skill set in IT, his big personality, and his passion for mentoring into the perfect role. As a technical director at Crestron, Abraham is learning to shift his mindset from always being in problem-solving mode to a higher-level, more strategic perspective on projects. He’s had to learn a lot.

“My biggest challenge was moving from post-sales to pre-sales. I was used to having to fix everything,” Abraham said. “I had to learn to listen to the customer’s needs and problems, and then mediate the solution in the right channel. That took some time, and I was fortunate to have some great mentors help me along the way.”

Read The Nine: Sharath Abraham

Kate Calderon

Kate Calderon, Innovative Collaborations

Kate Calderon (Image credit: Kate Calderon)

Name: Kate Calderon

Title: Director of Marketing

Company: Innovative Collaborations

Why You Need to Know Her: Kate Calderon’s passion is fueled by building relationships and promoting the technology that connects people. This passion led her right here to the pro AV industry. “I have found a home in the commercial audiovisual industry,” said Calderon, 32, with a giant smile. “The AV industry—as large as it is—is incredibly tight-knit. The sense of belonging and relationships that I’ve built both online and at our industry events is like none I’ve ever experienced.”

Read The Nine: Kate Calderon

Tammuz Dubnov

Tammuz Dubnov, Zuzor

Tammuz Dubnov (Image credit: Tammuz Dubnov)

Name: Tammuz Dubnov

Title: Founder and CEO

Company: Zuzor

Why You Need to Know Him: “My first interaction with AV was from my artistic work as a dancer and technologist.”

Tammuz Dubnov’s background, a combination of acrobatic leaps and mathematical bounds, gelled early. Dubnov is the 24-year-old founder and CEO of Zuzor, a company that offers a software and platform solution that enables any digital display to support experiential content. Zuzor combines artificial intelligence, machine vision, and multimedia to bring new capabilities to the masses.

“I graduated from college at the age of 18 and started the company when I was 20, so I came into this without years of experience working in the industry.”

With an education in the hard sciences (he has a bachelor’s degree in theoretical mathematics from the University of California Berkeley and a master’s degree in artificial intelligence from UC San Diego) and a professional background in performance (he’s a dancer/choreographer and a circus aerialist), combined with his boundless curiosity about the world around him, Dubnov was poised to do something transformational in the space between art and science.

Read The Nine: Tammuz Dubnov

Joe Dunbar

Joe Dunbar, Diversified

Joe Dunbar (Image credit: Joe Dunbar)

Name: Joe Dunbar

Title: Senior Account Executive

Company: Diversified

Why You Need to Know Him: Joe Dunbar’s skill set is a rare blend of technical and interpersonal. In his current role, Dunbar, 33, focuses on the big picture while developing strategic and long-term relationships in the pro AV industry. While creating those relationships, he can get into the nitty-gritty of the clients’ needs … or discuss the latest trends in a way that non-technical staff can easily digest.

“While I do still work on individual projects, they’re usually part of a larger scale that allows me to directly support and influence how companies improve their situations for their teams and their customers,” he said. “I really love the far-reaching implications of this. My favorite aspect is the challenge of keeping an eye on details while not losing perspective of the entire scope.”

Read The Nine: Joe Dunbar

Jarrod Hillman

Jarrod Hillman, Hillman AV

Jarrod Hillman (Image credit: Jarrod Hillman)

Name: Jarrod Hillman

Title: President/Owner

Company: Hillman Audio Video

Why You Need to Know Him: Jarrod Hillman, CTS, is focused on development, recruitment, and education. The 34 year old puts his money where his mouth is by volunteering for AVIXA’s Young AV Professionals Council and its Content and Learning Committee. Plus, he is involved with the Future Construction Leaders Committee of the Regina Construction Association in Saskatchewan.

“I tend to be passionate about anything I am involved with,” he said. “I believe in committing to opportunity and taking full advantage of it.” 

Read The Nine: Jarrod Hillman

Kari Martinez

Kari Martinez

Kari Martinez (Image credit: Kari Martinez)

Name: Kari Martinez

Title: AV Technician

Company: Water of Life Community Church

Why You Need to Know Her: A self-proclaimed audiophile and a relative newcomer to the industry, Kari Martinez, 22, has made the most of opportunities to network and connect with people. She’s jumped at the chance to speak at an AVIXA Women’s Council meeting and to make connections via social media. Her first research study, Girls/Women Lifestyle Survey, is focused on technical career opportunities for young women. She’s collaborating with Women in AV (WAVE) on a study researching demographics of women in the industry. The results will develop a benchmark for the AV industry’s overall female representation. And she’s just getting started.

Read The Nine: Kari Martinez

Lex Peters

Lex Peters, USC

Lex Peters (Image credit: Lex Peters)

Name: Lex Peters

Title: Learning Environments Support Analyst

Company: University of Southern California

Why You Need to Know Her: Lex Peters is bringing a new perspective to the AV industry. A people person with a public relations background, she is working to evangelize technology and promote its usefulness in ways that everyone can understand.

“I want to bring our industry into the light in terms of communications in ways that it’s overlooked, especially in higher education,” she said. “Being that ‘middle man’ has been fun. I’ve come to understand a lot of the AV talk, and I like translating that for other people. Explaining what our systems can do in layman’s terms, I think that helps a lot.”

Read The Nine: Lex Peters


Maura Quinn

Maura Quinn, TierPM

Maura Quinn (Image credit: Maura Quinn)

Name: Maura Quinn

Title: Communications Specialist/Business Analyst

Company: TierPM

Why You Need To Know Her: Maura Quinn, 25, understands the value of creativity in the pro AV industry and isn’t afraid to venture into the unknown. After graduating with a B.A. in communications from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, Quinn was unsure where she was heading … but she knew she wanted to combine her love of art, marketing, and technology.

She applied for an IT data analyst position at TierPM because has an “affinity for data, spreadsheets, and creating pretty reports.” She got the job and spent the next six months creating data-heavy reports for clients. Because of her experience in communications, her manager eventually transitioned her from that position to a marketing communications.

Read The Nine: Maura Quinn

Chrissy Sara

Chrissy Sara, AVIXA

Chrissy Sara (Image credit: Chrissy Sara)

Name: Chrissy Sara

Title: Staff Instructor

Company: AVIXA

Why You Need to Know Her: Chrissy Sara, CTS-I (née Spurlock), is both a teacher and a student. She is a staff instructor for AVIXA and spends her days traveling around the country preparing AV professionals to obtain their Certified Technology Specialist (CTS) designations. But she is also a master student—Sara says she takes something away from every class and every conversation. “If I’m not learning alongside them, why do I get to be up there teaching?”

Read The Nine: Chrissy Sara

The Nine 2020 on AVNation

SCN The Nine 2020 on AVNation

For more in-depth interviews with the 2020 class of The Nine, watch the AVNation videos below.

Joe Dunbar, Kari Martinez, and Lex Peters

Jarrod Hillman, Maura Quinn, and Tammuz Dubnov

Kate Calderon, Chrissy Spurlock, and Sharath Abraham.

Want more of SCN The Nine? Check out the complete list here.

SCN The Nine 2020

SCN The Nine 2019

SCN The Nine 2018

SCN The Nine 2016

SCN The Nine 2015

SCN The Nine 2014

Megan A. Dutta

Megan A. Dutta is a pro AV industry journalist, and the former content director for Systems Contractor News (SCN) and Digital Signage Magazine, both Future U.S. publications. Dutta previously served as the marketing communications manager at Peerless-AV, where she led the company’s marketing and communications department. Dutta is the recipient of AVIXA's 2017 Young AV Professional Award and Women in Consumer Technology's 2018 Woman to Watch Award. Dutta is co-founder of Women of Digital Signage, an organization designed to provide a pathway to promote networking, mentoring, and personal growth.